Waller County is moving forward with its new law enforcement center, Waller County construction manager Danny Rothe told Community Impact Newspaper.

In October, the county broke ground on the project that will include a 59,600-square-foot jail, 26,300-square-foot sheriff's office and a 10,400-square-foot on-site courtroom located on Justice Center Drive, which is a new road that will be built behind the Waller County Road & Bridge facility, 775 Business Highway 290, Hempstead, Rothe said. The project is expected to finish in October 2020, but the county can expand the facilities later if needed.

Voters approved a $39.5 million bond in November 2017 to build the new complex.

The aging 24,600-square-foot jail at 701 Calvit St. is at capacity with 100 inmates, Rothe said by email.

“The older jail is just, it’s 40 years old,” Rothe said by phone. “It was made out of metal. That’s just the way it got built. It’s rusting out. Physically, the jail is failing. It’s physically just not going to make it much longer.”

Waller County plans to demolish and salvage the metal of the existing jail, if its budget allows.

"The rusting problems cannot be corrected, making the old jail not ... for much [use] of anything else, and the condition of the building will be a financial drag on any maintenance or electrical power budgets," Rothe explained in an email.

The new jail will initially hold about 200 inmates. The county can later expand the complex to hold 500 beds. The plans for the facility incorporates a few new design elements that Waller County officials saw and liked at other new jails in Texas, according to Rothe, including:

  • An attic space with a pitched metal roof to create a interstitial open space that will house the building's utilities in an easy-to-access location for maintenance;

  • Ceilings over the inmate areas covered with concrete planks that will double as a secure ceiling and as a floor for the utilities space; and

  • An "eye in the sky" in all inmate housing areas that involves roving guards monitoring cells from the second floor rather than in-person monitoring on the first floor

Earlier this year the county selected Sedalco as the general contractor and Brinkley Sargent Wiginton Architects as the architect for the project. Additionally, LJA Engineering is the civil engineer, and Cannon Construction Company Inc. is a subcontractor for dirt work and underground utilities, Rothe said in the email.